The Heart Sūtra Explained

Indian and Tibetan Commentaries

By Donald S. Lopez Jr.

Subjects: Buddhism
Series: SUNY series in Buddhist Studies
Paperback : 9780887065903, 236 pages, November 1987
Hardcover : 9780887065897, 236 pages, January 1988

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Renowned for its terse declaration of the perfection of wisdom, the Heart Sutra is the most famous of Buddhist scriptures. The author draws on previously unexamined commentaries, preserved only in Tibetan, to investigate the meanings derived from and invested into the sutra during the later period of Indian Buddhism.

The Heart Sutra Explained offers new insights on "form is emptiness, emptiness is form," on the mantra "gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha," and on the synthesis of Madhyamika, Yogacara, and tantric thought that characterized the final period of Buddhism in India. It also includes complete translations of two nineteenth century Tibetan commentaries demonstrating the selective appropriation of Indian sources.


"It makes a major contribution to Buddhist studies by bringing forth new and important material to contextualize one of the most beloved and well-known Buddhist texts, the Heart Sutra. It does so in a manner that is both scholarly and readable. " -- Anne C. Klein, Stanford University